Baking 101

gbbo_fool_proof_recipesI’ve had my Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book for a year now and so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt as a novice baker over the past twelve months.

There are 100 recipes in this book ranging from cakes and biscuits to puddings and bread. I’ve managed to bake 15 of them. Not a massive amount from this book but I have been using other baking resources too.


Favourite recipe Blackcurrant Buttermilk Sponge because it just melts in your mouth
Best result – Simnel ‘Chelsea’ Buns because it was the first time I’d got the dough to proof properly and double its size
Worst result Vanilla Sables because they didn’t taste of vanilla

Here’s what I’ve learnt this year:

You don’t need loads of fancy equipment to produce good results

I don’t have a fancy mixer or blender, I’ve been using a £5 electric mixer which works just as well. I don’t see the point in investing in expensive equipment if you don’t need too or until you know that this is a hobby you will stick with. My baking tins etc are just basic ones that I’ve bought from Asda (other supermarkets are available) or our local market.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive ingredients

Baking can be done on a budget. Buy the shop’s own flour, baking powder, chocolate etc you don’t need to use expensive branded products, in my limited experience it really has no effect. One exception to this rule would be butter for shortbread or using it for butter icing. My personal preference is to use an unsalted block but that’s just me!

One recipe I made said 300g dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, mmm in Aldi this was £1.19 per 100g bar so I used their £0.59 per 100g instead, same result achieved at a fraction of the price

Read the recipe properly before you start

A few times recently I’ve picked a recipe to bake and then come to back it and it’s been a whole load of faff. Please bear in mind when I say this, I do 75% of my baking on a weekday evening so having a cake that takes an hour and a half to bake is not ideal. Therefore, I recommend reading through your recipe before you decide you’re baking it.

Read the ingredients list properly

As with the recipe method check above, again check your ingredients correctly. However, saying that, I’ve sat and wrote a shopping list whilst I’m looking at the ingredients and I’ve missed something off; on one occasion I forgot to buy almond essence to go in a bakewell cake!

Recipes don’t always go to plan

Even my trusted Mary & Paul GBBO recipes haven’t worked out perfectly even when I’ve followed the instructions to the letter. Generally they’ve needed additional baking time. You have to be prepared to adapt.

Icing sugar is no one’s friend!

Like a cloud of dust that descends into your kitchen and onto everything in it. All you need to do is open the bag and the you can see the cloud spread. It might make a nice buttercream but it’s a flipping nightmare to whisk in and clean up.

Greaseproof paper or baking parchment is every baker’s friend!

Why did I ever try and bake a cake without greaseproof paper?! This stuff is a God send. Ok, it’s a right faff to cut it to the right shape and size but the benefit at the end when your cake doesn’t stick and has nice smooth edges is totally worth it!

Enjoy it

For most of us this is a hobby, and you don’t want it to turn into a chore. It doesn’t matter if your bake isn’t perfect, in my experience things often taste better than they look. If you’re baking something to take somewhere I’m sure most people would prefer a homemade bake (so long as it’s edible ha)!

Fancy trying some of my experimental bakes; click the images to see the recipes

Blackcurrant Bakewell

Blackcurrant Bakewell

Egg Custard Tarts

Egg Custard Tarts

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns



Apricot Tart

Wobbly Apricot Tart

Sticky Mousse Cake

Sticky Mousse Cake

Cranberry & Marzipan Cake

Cranberry & Marzipan Cake

Do you have any baking tips or most valued lessons to share?

6 thoughts on “Baking 101

  1. Claire | Art and Soul says:

    You’re so right about butter being better (tongue-twister!) for buttercream. I’ve tried it with margarine, Stork, etc. but butter gets the best result.
    The last time I opened the box of icing sugar and the inevitable puff of white dust flew up and settled over everything, I thought, “The person who comes up with a way to stop icing sugar doing that will make a fortune!” It gets everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

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